South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley – the first minority woman governor in her state – spoke to the Indiana Republican Party about how to “wipe away the clutter of prejudices” when it comes to racial equality. Her remarks were to a crowd of more than 900 at the Ritz Charles in Carmel on Oct. 27 for the Indiana GOP Fall Dinner.
Haley made national headlines for leading the charge to remove the Confederate flag from her statehouse after a reported white supremacist shot and killed nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June.
But she said she didn’t act just in response to the tragedy. She said racial equality is something she’s been aware of her entire life, having grown up with two Indian parents in a small town. She told the story of citizens calling the police when they saw her father in his turban.
Haley not only talked about the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church but also the death of Walter Scott, who was shot by police in her state when he was pulled over for a broken taillight in April. She said she was proud that there was no violence in response but instead the legislature passed laws requiring body camera for police.
“If we scream less and listen more, we can make a lot of progress,” she said.
Haley said she’s proud of her state’s response to racism and tragedy and she said riots aren’t the answer.
“The riots in Ferguson and Baltimore were senseless,” she said. “You know, black lives do matter. Most of the businesses that were destroyed in these riots were owned by black owners. Many of the people who were injured in the riots were black.”
In addition, Haley talked about how creating jobs and improving education are part of the solution.
“We’re creating opportunity for everyone,” she said. “That is a huge deal for racial equality and that is the New South.”
She defended her push for identification cards to be required to vote, which some political pundits described as a way to disenfranchise black voters.
“Requiring people to show a voter ID is a reasonable request, not a racist measure,” she said. “If we quit the shouting and race-baiting rhetoric, we can work together for all of our citizens.”
And while she stands firmly behind her call to remove the Confederate flag, she said it’s unfair to think that those who wave the flag are all racists.
“There are many honorable decent people who revere that flag in our state,” she said.
In the end, Haley said she doesn’t think her state or her party is prejudiced.
“I would not have won the Republican primary if we were a racially-charged party,” she said.
Prior to Haley’s remarks, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence revved up the crowd about his hope for Republican victories in the upcoming elections.
“When you put Republican principles in practice, you are guaranteed two things,” Pence said. “You are guaranteed results, but you are also guaranteed opposition.”
When it comes to results, he pointed to the fact that Forbes Magazine recently named Indiana the eighth best state to do business and how unemployment rates dipped to 4.5 percent — its lowest level since July 2007.
As for the opposition, he joked, “Some days I have to open the newspaper with a stick.”